Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 8 months ago

WB_S2E12 The Wedding Veil with Kristy Woodson Harvey

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

WRITERS' BLOCK Ron Block and Kristy Woodson Harvey celebrate the highly anticipated release of The Wedding Veil!!!

This show is brought to you by our presenting sponsor, Charleston Coffee Roasters. Charleston coffee roasters painstakingly searches the world over for the highest quality coffee beans. They bring them home to Charleston, South Carolina, where slow roasting coaxes out their unique flavor. Along with their promise of great coffee, Charleston Coffee Roasters also pledges to help our planet and local communities. Globally, they support sustainable farming practices. Locally, they partner with the South Carolina seed Turtle Rescue Program Visit Their website, Charleston Coffee Roasterscom, and use the code coffee with friends, all lowercase, all one word, to get twenty percent off on all bagged coffees. Basically, my husband has this wedding veil that has been this kind of special heirloom in his family and I wore it when I got married, when we got married, and then I passed it along to my cousin, and so I was putting this veil on her head and it just sort of struck me how cool it was that this veil connected us to all these women, some of them who would never know, and I felt that's a book, you know. That's a story that I want to write about a wedding veil that connects all of these women through, we know, time and space, history and kind of this mystical way. Welcome to the friends and Fiction Writers Block podcast For New York Times Best Selling Authors, one rock star Librarian and endless stories. Join Mary K Andrews, Kristin Harmel, Christy Woodson Harvey and Patty Callahan Henry, along with Ron Block as novelists. We are for longtime friends, with seventy books between us, and I am Ron Block. Please join us for fascinating author interviews and insider talk about publishing and writing. If you love books and are curious about the writing world, you are in the right place. Welcome to a truly special episode of the friends and Fiction Writers Block podcast. I am Ron Block and my guest is also my very good friend. We all adore her and my favorite episodes are the ones where I get to talk to our founders when their new releases are coming out, and this is no exception. Please say hello to Christy Woodson Harvey, who's new book, the wedding veil, will release on March twenty nine. Hi, Ron Thank you so much for having me today. I'm so excited. This is so fun to get to be a guest on the podcast right right, usually we're in cohost shares, but now we get to be to this, so look out. Okay, so, while I actually like to start out like reading some of the bio, somebody want to encourage you all instead to go to Christy woods and Harveycom and read all about her. It's an amazing background, she's got so many accolades and she's done so much great work. Instead, I'm going to do something that I have never done before. Who Ready? No, Christie. I usually write you as soon as I finish your books and tell you about them and how much I love them, but I haven't done that this time, have I? You have not. I waited until now to tell you how much I love this book, Christie. I mean, I know that we're good friends, but even if I didn't even know you, I would have picked this up and I would have devoured it. Your you just I've said this before, but I think you continue to do it. All your books are wonderful with great characters, but this one took a new turn and you, it's so obvious that you're stretching your writing muscle and you are just really digging in and trying new things and you're being incredibly brave to great success. So I know this book is going to be big. Thank you on that means so much, especially coming from you, because you read so much. But it is it's nervewracking to do something new and I was I was very nervous to write this book and to, you know, move into a little bit of a different genre and to do real historical research about these real women. And you know, they're all sorts of things that go into that that are a little bit nerve racking, but I've had great support from my friends and fiction family and my publishing house and I'm just so excited for this book to come out. I can't wait. Yes, I think the world is waiting and waiting for this one. One of the things that really strikes me about it is it's four voices and two timelines and how you kept that all together, and I'm going to ask you about that in just a few minutes, but just keep that in your head. I want to also say this review I read from eonline. This says the author of the Peach Tree blove series brings your signature warmth and...

...southern charms of the story about for women across generations that are bound by a beautiful wedding veil and a connection to the famous vanderbilt family. This is my favorite part. Like sweet tea, Woodson Harvey's writing coats your soul with heart. That's so cute, that's so nice. I love it. It's so true. It's so true. Who are see, you know I love sweet tea. So anytime I'm compared to that, which I take it as a when it's a win win. So this is your first historical fiction. What made you go down that path? You know, I think sometimes we get an idea for a story and sometimes a story finds us, and this was one of those stories that found me. It took me a couple of years to really be like, okay, all right, like I really think this story is something that wants me to write it as woo woo, and weird as that sounds, but we had visited bilt more and two thousand and eighteen just we were evacuating for hurricane and we evacuated to Ashville and I've been to built more many times. I grew up just a couple hours from there and we went to Ashville a couple times a year and you know it, it's a built more a lot. But it was the first time that I'd been there that it really struck me how young Edith Vanderbilt was when her husband, George, who built built more, passed away. And I got really interested in how this woman, who was single for many, many, many, many years after her husband died. I thought, you know, how did she keep up this grand, huge, two hundred and fifty room home, not to mention all of the lands around it and the hundreds of employees? And we're Ashville really sprung up around built more, and so he just really owned most of this town when George died and I just thought how, how is she able to keep this up, especially when I started realizing that the way George's estate was set up, the vast majority of what he had left off his fortune was willed to his daughter Cornelia, and she didn't receive it till she was twenty five years old, which was twelve years after he died. So there were just all these things kind of combining in my mind. She wasn't left with very much money. She you know, couldn't even vote, for heaven's sake, like she didn't have a lot of power in the world. And I went home and I just started reading about her and I really wanted to read a novel about her, and so I went I searched for a novel about Edith Vanderbilt and I couldn't find one and I kept saying someone should writ a book about her. So much tried a book about her. And so fast forward, and I won't go into like the whole long details of the story, but basically my husband has this wedding veil that has been this kind of special heirloom in his family and I wore it when I got married, when we got married, and then I passed it along to my cousin, and so I was putting this veil on her head and it just sort of struck me how cool it was that this veil connected us to all these women, some of them who we would never know, and I thought that's a book, you know, that's a story that I want to write about a wedding veil that connects all of these women through, you know, time and space and history and kind of this mystical way. And so I pitched the idea to my agent and she loved it right away and she said, you know, and there's some other historical I will say there's some other historical ideas that I've been sort of toying with, and she said, what if you wrote about a real wedding veil? And I was kind of like yeah, I mean, that would be cool, but I don't have anybody that I really want to write about, you know, that would have a famous wedding veil that I want to spend a year researching her life. And so I was up one night and I just, on a whim, Google to etith vanderbilt wedding bail and a story came up about this beautiful wedding veil that was made from Edith's grandmother's lace that was worn by her mother and her three sisters and her daughter Cornelia, and then it disappeared and it was like that tickally Pringal Button, prickly tingle. I'm saying the word doing prickly tingle like all over my body. Of this is a story that I need to write like. This is the perfect bridge for me because I can write a contemporary historical novel about four generations of women, two of them being the real edith and Cornelia Vander built, and I can answer the question for myself. You know, what happened to the famous Vanderbilt Vale while also researching these two incredibly fascinating women that I couldn't learn enough about. So and that was I mean this all transpired over the series of like two and a half, three years, so it wasn't just, you know, an instant thing for me. It was something that I kind of had to get used to and get my toe into, and I'm you know, I'm glad I did. I mean I think it was a great new experience for me and look different than I thought it would, as things always do, based only because of covid but but it was great. And you know Oswald and as well. So it's great. One of the things that strikes me about the book is the alternating chapters. As I'm reading it, I'm like, I don't want to leave this chapter because I love these people, and then I start the next Jep I goes, Oh, I love these people too. So it just kept going. How is it to put a voice to historical figures versus contemporary well, you know, it feels like this huge responsibility, and there were several times during the process of writing this book that would have that panic.

I was like, who am I to tell these women's stories, like what gives me the right to try to put a voice to these people who were no longer here to speak for themselves? And you know, I will say Patty Callahan and Henry and particular, would be like it out, like the story found you, like you are the one to tell this story and you're supposed to be telling the story, because it does feel like a tremendous, tremendous responsibility to be writing about these real women. And you know, I mean I read a ton of books from that time period. I, you know, watched a lot of shows about the time period, like just sort of trying to get into the voice. But I think also, you know, there's that line between wanting to differentiate your characters and to know, when you flip to that new chapter, okay, you know this is a chapter said in one thousand nine hundred and fourteen or whatever it may be, but also keeping it true enough to today that readers don't stumble on it, and so that was something that, you know, I worked kind of hard on. I also I put the historical chapters and third person and the modern day chapters in first person, and I think in some ways I did that for myself because I felt like if they were in third person it was a little more true to their story and their voice and I wasn't trying to put them on and wear them, if that makes sense, like I was pelling their story instead of instead of telling their story, and first person as though it is from them. You know I'm telling it, and third person is though it is from myself, for from a narrator. So I do think that helps, you know a little bit. But I do there's actually a part of me that wonders what it would have been like if I had written them in first person, because I do feel so close to them now. But I like the way it turned out and I think with having four narrators, having that switching between first and third makes it very clear to the reader like we're in the past, where in the present, where the past where in the present. Even if it's not super conscious, I think subconsciously it helped kind of make that dividing line. Well, I think there's room here for a sequel here that I'm like maybe there is I'm actually it's funny because I'm listening to it right now on audio. I try not to read them once they're in print because it makes me crazy. But I also, you know, it's like I crammed for this history test for like eighteen months and that was, you know, and now I haven't been in the written two books since then, Christmas and Peach Tree Bluff and then the summer song birds, which comes out in twenty three, and I'm like, I gotta go back and make sure that, like, I have all my dates and facts and figures right, because I'm getting ready to go on the road and, you know, I know people are going to have a lot of questions for me about the history and I want to make sure like I remember all the details really well, because they'll remember. The people are your fans will remember. They pat attention. Yeah, like do that. So you talked a little bit about research. Talk to me about the character research and the architecture research and the clothing, because as I read it, I had this picture in my mind, especially if Cornelia's wedding, of what it must look like. I've never been to the built more I was like you completely put it in my head and so of course I don've in down a rabbit hold find out more about this, which is, I think, what people hope you do from these books. And it was perfect. It was perfect. It's exactly what I pictured in my mind. You brought it to life. So what was the process for you to do that yourself? Well, of course it was different than I thought, because I started really said town to start writing this book on March ninth to twenty. Literally flew home from a ski trip on March Ninth, Woke Up March ten I was like I'm going to write this book and then knew that the world was shutting down. The world shutdown, but the next day, I guess today, right today, two years ago, or yesterday to today, was named pandemic. Yeah, to yeah, so obviously it looked different than I thought. I was like, I'm going to go out and I'm going to you know, I'm going to get this year along past a built more and I'm going to be an ashvill all the time and I'm going to be at the libraries and the stacks getting everything I can about these women. And then, of course that didn't happen. So thank goodness for the Internet and librarians like you on because I had so many people help me, you know, research through this process and built more is such a wealth of information. Awesome. But my'm honestly, what I relied on mainly was I truly I mean I joke about it, but I kind of feel like I read every time the name's edith or Cornelia Vanderbilt were mentioned in a newspaper ever in history of the world, because, I mean I spent like months, you know, going down newspaper rabbit holes and reading like every variation of syndicated articles and just every detail that I could get my hands on. I, you know, bought every single book that had ever been written. I think that I could at least find or get my hands down about, you know, the Vanderbilts, and you know most of them. There might be like a chapter or even just like a few paragraphs about these women, but I think, you know, everything that I read and formed who they were and and so that was, you know, that was helpful and that was interesting. But there I was lucky because they were written about so much. So like I was able to do really end up research into like, you know, what they were wearing and you of what...

...their wedding gowns looked like. You what edith was wearing the day she got married for the second time, what she might have been wearing the day that she went to meet she went to the Helen Keller speech where I made up that she met. Then she ran into, you know, the man that would become her second husband, but I don't really know that they met there, but I know she was at that talk and I know what she wore, you know. So that was a good thing about the fact that these women were so covered in newspapers and magazines and articles, because I could really, you know, figure the stuff out. Now I will say, of course, about the time I was finishing the first draft of the novel, the world was opening back up enough that I could at least go to built more, and that was so helpful for me, actually, in the end, maybe more helpful than it would have been to do a lot of that research up front, because by the time I was doing that I had already had the first draft. I knew my story was covering one thousand nine hundred and thirteen. Tonight, I mean nineteen fourteen to nineteen thirty four. There are, of course, a lot of flashbacks and we see, you know, it's wedding and we see the first day she arrives at Bill Moore and some things like that in her flashbacks. But the story as it is unfolding takes place over the course of this twenty years. So it was really able at that point to be able to hone in on, you know, fat checking and the guides just have so many little anecdotes that I felt like helped add color to this story. But the thing that surprised me about historical research that I what I wasn't really aware of is when I first started doing it, I thought I don't have enough information that I could write a full novel just about Edith and Cornelia. You know, this would have to be a contemporary historical novel. But that wasn't really true, because you can just find this one little nugget and it leads to this whole chapter or storyline, which shocked me because I wasn't really aware of that because I've never done it before. There's the stretching of your writing muscle. So one of the things that I I'm also struck by in the book is how it's about love. There's a lot of love in the book. But not not in a conventional way. It's all kind of focused on second chances. It love. Yeah, it was that intentional. And how was it writing about the second chances? You know, I think I really wanted all of these women. I knew that the story, especially, you know, with eatith and cornelias viewpoints, was going to be about second chances or, if not even second chances, about the choices that we make that maybe aren't popular but they're right for us. So I knew in the historical part of the story that was going to be a really big theme for both of these women was making these hard choices even when they don't seem logical to the outside world. I don't know that I consciously did that for babs and Julia, but at the end I was like, Oh yeah, I mean, you know, opening of this book we have Julia leaving her husband at the altar. That's not a popular decision. APS driving to get away car. I'm driving to get away car, a very another, very unpopular decision. HMM. And you know, babs has just lost her husband of more than sixty years and she wants a second act. You know, she wants to be able to live the rest of her life, however long that is, to the fullest, and that's not a popular decision with her children like they are. They're not happy about her, you know, moving on and kind of having this next phase in her life, and so she has some difficult decisions that she has to make and she feels very torn between her duty and what will make her happy. And I think each of these women finds themselves at least one spot, if not more than one, where they are choosing between what will make them happy and what their duty and responsibility is, and I think that's something that is very relatable because I think we're all in those spots, often agreed, and I think it all over the last couple of years people have really had to look at those things in a different way. I'm not really doing the right thing. What can I do differently? And then think that the great migration away from people's jobs trying to do something else has been evident of that. Yes, exactly. The friends and fiction writers black podcast is brought to you by our presenting sponsor, page one bucks. The page one book subscription provides the personal touch of an Indie bookstore with the delight and surprise of an online subscription service created chest for you. The literary match makers at page one books hand select books just for you based on your preferences and their knowledge. At page one books, you are more than algorithm. Shop now at page one BOOKSCOM. That's page the number one BOOKSCOM. Choose their three, six or twelve month subscription plan. The gift of page one is always a custom fifth and...

...now you can get fifteen percent off all books subscriptions with the Code Friends Fifteen. I want to also ask, well, babs and Julia. My God, what a great grandmother Granddaughter Relationship Those Two have. And and you always write about these strong bonds between women, but these two for some reason had a very thelma and Louise Field. Well, what are they based on? I mean, I'm not going to say they're based on my grandmother and me, bes are not. I mean, like the way cars is different than my grandmother and I'm very different than Julia, but I feel like kind of that bond between them is something that I know very well because I have always had such a strong relationship and bond with my grandmother and you know, I grew up like a mile away from my grandparents and so you know, I they were very, very much in my life. I mean I saw them several times a week. Actually just got home from seeing my grandmother yesterday and we're five hours apart now, unfortunately, but I don't know, she just has been such an influence in my life and has taught me so many really important things and really important life lessons, and I think that what I loved about this book is that it's very clear through the story that Julia has always looked up to babs and babs has always taught Julia so many of her life lessons. But at this point in her story, at this point in her life, babs is actually taking some pages from Julia. I mean Julia is actually kind of the one to step in and say to Babs, like, you know, you have to kind of make yourself happy at some point. You can't be worried about what mom thinks all the time or what ilse thinks all the time, or what's your friends say or you know, you kind of have to take your happiness where you can get it, and I think, you know, her bold choices that she makes for herself kind of help inform babs. Is next chapter to write right. Absolutely I want to go back to not to the research so much, but kind of the truth versus fiction, because you learned a lot of facts and things. But what point, what's the line where you kind of crossed over into making it up yourself? Yeah, so I tried as much as possible, you know, to stay true to the facts of the things that I knew, like if I knew dates, if I knew people, if I could figure out about how people met or how their lives intersected, or you know what that looks like like. For example, how Edith and George Mett was very widely covered in the press. Like I knew, you know, that they were. They sort of met on this boat and his sisters were like very interested in him getting together with edith. They thought she was a good match for him, and so they sort of, you know, created this flat for one of his friends to sort of thrust them together on this boat, and obviously it worked out very well that that did work out so like, for example, that's something that I really knew well. But you know, there were also times, you know, I mentioned how edith was sort of thrust together with her second husband. I couldn't find anything about that. No one seemed to know no one seemed to really know how Dranelia Vanderbilt met John Cecil, especially because she was a very vocal about the fact that she was not marrying a man that was not American. It was kind of like the trendy thing at the time for these really rich American women to marry these sort of broke but titled, you know, men from other countries, and she was very vocal about the fact that she was not doing that. And then she fell in love with John Cecil, who was an Englishman. So no one really knows how they met. It was very clear that they met in Washington DC. They were both there at the same time. But so I got to kind of fill in, you know, how they might have met and what that might have looked like, and I put them at this glamorous cocktail party with all of these, you know, important people and heads of state and things like that. And you know, for Edith that Helen Keller speech that I mentioned was something that she really did attend. It would have been around the time when she and Peter Sort of got back together and I thought that's somewhere that I know she was and he could have been. So I tried to do as much research as I could to make it really factual. But then there are also things that are just, we're very just made up in the press, which I thought was so interesting, like I went down this huge rabbit hole, because there were all these articles about Cornelia attending UNC Chapel Hill, which is my Alma Mater, and so I was so excited about the idea of being able to write about, you know, Cornelia at UNC during World War One, during a time when there were very few women at this university, and so there were a couple things that stood out to me right away. One, the articles that I was reading were written in nineteen eighteen, which would have made her eighteen years old, which is college age, except that women couldn't attend Chapel Hill until they were twenty, till their junior year of college. But I thought, well, their ways around that. She's the wealthiest woman in America. She went to Miss Madeira's, which was not only, you know, the high school, but it was also a college, so she could have theoretically, you know, had some classes.

I don't know, that was something that I could work around. So I contacted all these people at Chapel Hill that we're doing this deep research to find out, you know, when she was there and how she was there and what that looked like, until I came upon an article that quoted George Vanderbilt talking about how proud he was if his daughter attending Chapel Hill and, you know, her getting her higher education and the the small problem with that was that the article was written in nineteen eighteen and George Vanderbilt died in nineteen four teeth. Sort of puts a cheek in the armor for my story. And as it turned out, she never attended you and C Chapple Hill. There's no record ever ever going to that school, but I found dozens of articles about it. So I'm like, how is this even possible? But you know the family as famous as the vanderbilts and the way the press was at the time, they sort of made things up about them or said whatever they wanted. Sounds like it might be contemporary, like this is not a political commentary, however. No, right, there repeats itself, right as it does. So there's another little thread throughout the book that I found very fascinating and probably new for you, but there's a lot of mention of numerology and spiritualism through the book and there's some amazing tools that you use to illustrate what's going on in Eve's head and I love it so much. Can you talk about inserting all of that? Yes, so that was one of the things that fascinated me than most about Cornelia Vanderbilt. In particular, she develops this fascination of with numerology and something that I think people don't really know about her. She was an extremely talented artist, but she was also a writer, I kind of a frustrated one at that. She had a book that she was trying to get published and it didn't go that well for her and that's something that, you know, we really follow along with her storyline in the book. But yeah, she she got sort of involved in this artist colony in New York and was introduced to all these new ideas and became very convinced that, you know, the numbers and the stars were leading her path, and I had so much fun researching numerology. I mean I learned so much about, you know, how to figure out your life path numbers and the significance of certain days and your birthday and you know, like on her particular birthday of hers, she believes that she's supposed to do. You know a certain particular thing, and you know it's almost, not almost, I mean it sort of becomes a religion to the people who really, really believe in it, and she was one of them. I mean to the point that, well, I don't know, I don't want to say too much because I want to give anything on plot points, but I won't say much except that it was really interesting for me to get to research numerology and that is that is true. I mean it is very well documented that she had a very real fascination with numerology and that she did believe that it was guiming her life story and her life path and she made a lot of decisions based on that. Yes, yeah, it's such a great element to the book. I just I can't wait for people to dig into that part. So now becomes the big part. One of the things that Christy and I have talked about is maybe presenting part of the book that didn't make it into the final addition. So, if you don't mind, Christie, you have a chapter that you're going to read that didn't make it into the book. I do and I'll tell you. I'll just give you like a little bit of brief backstory. So this chapter took place in December of one thousand nine hundred and eighty five. It's one of the things that I do know happen to edith wharton and edith band or built were very good friends and she spent the Christmas of one thousand nine hundred and five at built more. That is it's well documented situation and it's something that I hated not being able to put in the book, but it didn't really ultimately move my story forward. But it does contain a lot of foreshadowing and a lot of interesting information. Oh Gods, informs the story. So you know, if you're listening to it now, it will not there's no spoilers in it, but it also does kind of inform a lot of like the backstory and things didn't actually make it into the novel. And a fun fact before I start reading. Yeah, you're the phrase keeping up with the Jones has, uh Huh. Edith Wharton was Edith Jones and her family is the Jones has. That's where it came from. That's her run. That's the thing. You know, you when you start doing historical research, you want to write a million more stories like. The more I learned about Edith Wharton, I was like, well, I need to write a book about her. I mean, oh my goodness, I know. Okay, well, I'm so excited to share this with you. And so here we get, December, nineteen o five, edy edith exclaimed. Is the footman open the back door of the Black Ford and her friend came into view. Darling, edy Edith Wharton said back to her longtime friend Edith Vanderbilt. Miss Vanderbilt walked down the steps, instructions already given to the footman about bags and plans. She led her friend into the room that, during her nineteen o Tuesday at built more. She knew she had found mist...

...agreeable. It was, unsurprisingly, the library. Miss Wharton had been enthralled by the electric ivory call button that served instead of a bell attached to a rope to call the servants. She had requested that George show her the elaborate electric dumb waiter again and again, and had played hide and seat with Cornelia by folding herself inside the Beautiful Oak paneled passenger elevator near the entrance. Bill more was no doubt a modern marvel, but being a lover of words. Always, it was the library, where she was surrounded by books, where Miss Wharton found the most joy, the twenty two thousand volumes housed in the two story library. Certainly wild a lover of words, but as one of the country's foremost interior design experts, Horton also couldn't help but be drawn in by the oak carvings of demeter and Hestia above the Mantel, the black marble hearth, the ornate spiral staircase. Wharton had, on her last trip to build more, utilize that secluded passageway to sneak into the second story of the library. Dark and cozy or nate and smelling richly of leather, it was the perfect place for a writer to sneak away to beat with her thoughts. He did. Vanderbilt could never see her friend without thinking of the first Christmas without her grandmother, of the way that Edith Wharton took her family in, fed them, celebrated with them, made them feel warm during the coldest part of their life. Darling, eaty, you look splendid, Miss Vanderbilt said to Miss Wharton, and she did, with hair piled up on her head and ruffles around her neck. You may be a grown up, famous writer now, but you were still that handsome little edith Jones, always scribbling. The pair laughed. Is the Butler silently brought in tea service. Her friend nodded. What splendors do you have in store for me this time? Well, we'll certainly have to go for many swims, the hostess replied, winking. Both friends were avid swimmers, and Miss Wharton in particular was enchanted by the electric lights and the mere idea of an indoor swimming pool. And then I simply cannot wait to show you built more estate industries. I believe last time you were here, Yeale and bants had just begun to found the boys club and Girls Club apprenticeships. But it's such a high sight to behold. Now they're teaching these children carving, weaving, needle point and pottery. I feel so strongly that we are doing good here. This vanderbilt could feel herself light up when she talked about the growing educational opportunities for Ashfual children. It was her passion, her life's calling. She felt sure of it now more than ever. She had been brought here to give Appelachian children an opportunity, the chance to be something more, to go far in life while keeping their morals intact. Some days the good it was doing in their community overwhelmed her. I'm so proud of you, edith, Miss Wharton said. I truly am. You are changing people's lives. You've always been the most generous person I know, and built Moore has helped you prove it. It warms my heart to see you have found your happiness. But about you, Miss Vanderbilt asked, feeling embarrassed that she had kept the talk on herself, not her guest, for so long. The House of Mirth is magnificent. Miss Vanderbilt knew she wasn't the only one who related wholeheartedly to well bred but needless Lily Bart. It was a position she remembered well. Miss Vanderbilt had her rumblings that her friend had based her lily on Alva. Vanderbilt Edith, sisterin law, but as it was not nice to repeat gossip, she had only repeated it to George, who had told his wife that he would like to doubt it very much, but wasn't fiction always based at least in part on fact? And so it was. I brought a signed copy for George Edith said, gesturing to the books around her. I thought it might fit nicely in his library. The author leaned back in her chair and side by darling friend, how do the papers contend that you could hate this place? Who could hate such a place as builtmore? Well, our dear Henry James, for starters. The pair of burst out laughing. Poor Henry. Miss Vanderbilt said it was cold and snowing. He got a terrible case of GALT and unbeknownst to us until he left, the Buzzer in his room wasn't working quite properly. I'm afraid he didn't have a very pleasant go of things here. Her friend rolled her eyes. So what, it's snowing now and it's positively magnificent. How can one even have Christmas without snow? It's appalling. Henry, bless his soul, can be quite dramatic. If you can't find a reason to be happy at built more, then you can't find a reason to be happy. Edith smiled, the warmth of of her friend's words washing over her. She had known that James hadn't enjoyed his time and her spacious a bid, but it felt personal to her. She was always praised for her skills as a hostess, but even her charms, sparkling wit and eight to ten course meals couldn't turn James's affections toward built more. It was a mixed blessing, though, because the slight made edith realize how much she had truly come to love Bill Moore. It's sweeping grandeur, but also it's perfectly down to earth harmony. The nature outside her door juxtaposed so perfectly with the glamor around her, creating what she believed was a perfect existence. When she found herself in Bar Harbor or New York or even on the continent, she longed for built more, maybe because here they were just edith and George. No fancy parties and social gatherings that her husband wasn't terribly keen on, no airs to...

...put on, just two people, man and wife, who loved each other and wanted a happy life together with their bright and beautiful daughter. That made everything better. George had had a vision here, a dream, a wish, and edith had caught it. Won't teddy any terribly sad without you by his side for Christmas? Miss Wharton looked at her friend warily. You and I know each other far too well for pretense. We both know I never should have married Teddy. We both know that I should have followed my heart, but I wasn't brave enough to stand up to my mother. She lowered her voice and said but what I should have listened to most was the voice inside my head warning me that teddy would turn out like his father. Miss Vanderbilt gasped, feeling a surge of fear for her friend. Yes, she knew edith shouldn't have married Teddy. Everyone knew edith shouldn't have married Teddy. Edith was bright and vivacious. She wrote beautifully, had the most perfect eye for design, which she also had been published on extensively. She had dreams and aspirations, and Teddy wanted to sit in Newport and go to parties. What's worse is that he didn't not edith to even have her ambitions. It had nearly killed her friend if she hadn't pulled herself out of it, made up her own mind and begun her staggering career. The lack of creativity would have killed her. She was sure of it. Miss Vanderbilt often wondered what it must be like to be a fly on the wall of the Burton resonance. What would edith and Teddy possibly have talked about? She suspected nothing at all, which made her friend's sadness all the more understandable. Teddy's own father's institutionalization for Melancholia was talked about all over polite society, and a less than polite way, mind you. But the doctors had promised edith it wasn't hereditary. You aren't saying Hoorton nodded. I can feel it eating. He hasn't descended completely yet, but that man is on the way to total madness. And then when am I going to do? She shook her head. I just hope the papers don't catch one of the news. That's all I need. The book is going so well that I worry constantly some scandal is going to just blow it all away. You're entirely too well established, successful and brilliant to be blown away by a scandal, Miss Vanderbilt said supportively. But I am a woman, Miss Wharton said Dully, as though her friend had failed to understand that fact. You know, we can't get away with the things are male counterparts can. Even getting here has been such a struggle. The fear that I want be able to stay, that I'll have to go back to that wordless life of meaningless parties and uninteresting conversation haunts me night and day. Miss Vanderbilt understood her friend more than she could say. She had so many wonderful, important things to fill her time. She had purpose, productivity. She was commenced, now more than ever, that those were the elements that added up to a happy life. But things are changing. Can't you feel it? You're one of the most important authors in the world. Women are on the rise, things are changing for us. Even if, she said at Miss Vanderbilt got a familiar feeling of nervousness and her stomach. Things were changing. She herself was thrilled by the prospect of women getting the vote, of if not herself, her dear Cornelia, being able to hold political office one day. You did was for change. She liked change, she wanted change, but the change she wanted was also going to create change in their very existence, their lifestyles. She had been subject to Genteel poverty. She knew she could survive, but my how good life was without being constantly embroiled and that bitter struggle things are changing, all right, Orton said, but we can't be in the dark about what that might mean for people like us. She paused. The papers certainly have something to say about it. Miss Vanderbilt had felt a shaft lately. Before she had been in the paper when something particularly noteworthy happened. Now it seemed that the papers invented noteworthy things in order to have the vanderbilt in the paper. She hated to think that it all really started when Cornelia was born. And then, of course, there was poor leroy feeling a fierce need to protect her daughter and her brother, edith exclaimed. But why do the papers care so very much about our lives? Tot, they understand that we are people too, that we have our own problems just the same as everyone else. Well, Darling, I believe it's our problems that entertain them most of all, Miss Wharton side setting her teeth up on the end table. But now we aren't real people to them. There's no sympathy for the trials and tribulations of American heiresses devastated by a drop in the stock market and having to fire a footman or let go a maid. Then the author took in a sharp breath and put her hand to her mouth. Dearest friend, forgive me, I'm over here trying to be clever and your brother is being raped over the coals. Her brother's financial misfortunes had been a black cloud over the family, a black cloud that even edith and George couldn't fix. Le Roy had at least tried to keep his sisters out of the papers with him, but who could blame them for wanting to sell more issues? It broke edith's heart, though, to see her brother in such misery. What must have have been like for him to see his sisters make such advantageous marriages and succeed so wildly? Of course he would have felt the need to keep up. Who wouldn't? In his Quest Leroy, via his new bank, Trust Company of the Republic, had loaned millions to a shipbuilding company that well sunk, and le Roy sunk with it. George and Edith were already, quite truthfully, feeling a bit of a financial pinch from the combination of overspending on the house a serious downturn in the market, and there George, Edith and Natalie had tried to help le Roy...

...secretly. Rumors about the shares of stock that they had bought it ninety cents on the tall our word trout, and now they were worthless. Another large scale financial blow. It made edith stomach turn to think what her husband had lost because of her. But they had lost together. But nothing hurt her quite as much as the idea that her dear brother was embroiled in such a scandal, such a public court case. But this is America, she thought to cheer herself up. People remade their lives here, they redefined themselves. She knew even her heart, though, that no matter what her brother did next, he would always wear the scarlet letter. He would always be a bankrupt it breaks my heart. Miss Vanderbilt answered truthfully, but when I think, concerns me the most just what to light the paper seemed to get from seeing his troubles. It scares me a little for the future, especially for Cornelia. What is she going to face at the hands of the press? As if she had heard her name? That precious little girl, still in her peacoat ribbons and her hair, ran into the library. Nanny was close on her heels, but well, no one could keep up with Cornelia. Miss Vanderbilt pulled her up onto her lap. Hello, my darling, Hi Mommy, she said that little cherry of a mouth, smiling at her mother. She was a true beauty, that child, and her mother hoped to foster that kind heart that she already had. Georgian edith had grown up in a different world from Cornelia, a world of society, of parties, of clubs, for social standing was more important than anything else. Cornelia's partially loved that life. Of course, she had traveled all over the world's been a good deal of time in New York, in Washington, but already, like her father Asheville was Cornelia as home. She felt most comfortable among the pines laughed hardest when playing with the sons and daughters of housemaids and dairy workers. Cornelia was a bridge, a sign of the change that was taking place in the world, where the divide between the rich and the poor was closing, if not monetarily, then at least socially. She would grow up in a society different than Georgian edith had. The press loves her, Miss Wharton enthused. How could they not? When it comes to outside forces being too involved in your life, there's a very thin line between love and hate. As spander belt responded, but she never could have imagined how true those words would turn out to be the end. Wow, wow, wow, wow, there is so much in there. Oh my God, there's a lot in there that I feel like when I was choosing, I had a few chapters to choose Robin. When I was choosing, I thought there's so much in there that is touched on so briefly in the book, especially about Leroy and his financial struggles and the way that Georgian edith helped him. And and then that foreshadowing of of what happens to Cornelia, sort of it the hands of the press, at the hands of the press, right. That must have kind of spoken to You with your journalism background. It definitely did. But also a family member of Cornelia's said just almost an offhanded comment to me that, you know, Cornelia was one of the most famous women of her day and that the press just kind of d her alive and eventually she just couldn't handle it anymore. And it wasn't even necessarily that they were saying anything negative about her. They just would never leave her alone. And that just really spoke to me because it wasn't something that I necessarily found in my research, but it made so much sense for her story. Absolutely, absolutely. It also talks about the life of service that edith lived and how much he cared about other people, and that that really kind of drove it home. It's touched out in the book, of course, but this really drove it home. It was so generous. She really was. I'm feeling like new historical fiction books Emina, eating from this chapter. Well, I really did. This was a chapter where I was I did. I went down such an edith wharton rabbit hole. It was terrible. And then and even Horton does appear in the novel, but like very briefly. So I did way to mentor research, including rereading the house of Mirth. Wow, that has about three lines in the actual book. Yes, but well, the House of Mirth is the house of Mirth so very much. But it's so why not really? Yeah, so this is kind of an out their question, but let's say that you could actually sit down with one of your most compelling characters and one of the most compelling historical characters, Cornelia, who's also had many nicknames. If you could sit down with her, what would you ask her? I would just want to hear her side of the story. I tried to portray her in a way that she is hopefully a sympathetic character in this novel. I think she's been very villainized in the press and I think built Moore has done a good job of no tempering her portrayal and kind of making her, you know, this very well rounded woman and their eyes and she was, you know, she was someone that had really, really great love, just like her mother and her father did, for Ashville, for the people. For I say the people, is there? There are sometimes, but many kind of are. I mean, when I think about the vanderbilts at this time, you know they had a lot to overcome in terms of being new money and all of those things, but but by this point they...

...really they were royalty. I mean they were American royalty, and so, you know, people looked up to them in a way that I think we look up to royalty now. They were the royalty in America. So I do think that, you know, what she faced at the hands of the press, maybe told a story about her that wasn't necessarily true, and there's just a lot to unpack there. I mean there's so many things I want to say for people who don't know the history. I don't want to give away the end of the book. Don't do it. But so basically I will just say I want her side of the story. I want to know what happened and the whole time I was doing research I kept thinking that I was going to find something, that I was going to just come upon this little fact or something that happened in her life or this turning point, and I just thought someone's going to tell me or someone's going to know or I'm going to read something somewhere that's been kind of lost and shoved to the side. But her life is still extremely shrouded in mystery and even today there are plenty of people conjecturing, you know, why she did the things that she did and and what that looked like for her. But you know, to me, ultimately she was a very complex woman who lived a life in the spotlight that she never really asked for, and I think that's an important thing to remember about her, that she didn't ask for, you know, the life or the scrutiny that she faced. She just was born into it. That's so true. That is so true. So can you talk at all about your next book. Oh, I'm probably not articulately, but yeah, I'll tell you a little bit. So it is tentatively titled The summer of Songbirds. I'm not positive that that will be the title that we land on. I did see the like in the the sales announcement that there's something out. It is called the summer of Songbirds, so we'll go with that for now. But it is a book about three best friends from summer camp and one of their aunt's actually owns the summer camp, but she is also a protagonist and sort of the surface level of the story is that, you know, covid summer has been obviously terrible for the camp and has put her in a situation where she really can't recover, and so several years later she has to make the really difficult decision that she is going to have to close this camp, which means more to her and then I think it would mean to the average person who owned a camp, for reasons that you'll learn about in the story. But these three best friends come together and decide that that is not going to happen. So they get together to save this place that the raised them and that is so important to them for again a number of reasons that you'll learn throughout the story. But the main conflict of the book that I think is kind of the most interesting is that two of our protagonist Daphne and linear, are best friends and Daphne is an attorney and she learns something about her friend Linear's fiance that, because of attorney client privilege, she cannot share with her. So she has to make this very difficult decision to either tell her best friend and get disbarred. She's a single mother, so this is a big decision for her. She doesn't have any their way of supporting her family and she knows if she does this it will obviously be a huge scarlet letter for her and she may never work again. Or she has to let her very best friends, who is almost her sister, who has done things for her that are much, far above and beyond the typical best friend relationship that you will learn about in this story. Definitely had a very difficult childhood and linear sort of did some things for her that that were very important and so you know it's not a typical like do you tell your friend? It's like do you tell your sister who has saved you in many, many occasions. This truth is about her husband, so or her future husband. So that's kind of the main, the central scandal at this the center of the story. That was just really interesting for me to get to write about. So there's a lot of female friendships, relationships, family dynamics, all the things I love. Yeah, I'm ready, let's go. But also summer, any scandal. It's like a Bravo show. Yeah, I know, and it's actually it's funny. It's a book that I've been working on since like early two thousand and twenty, or maybe even two thousand and nineteen, like it's just something that it came to me and I knew it the story was going to be and I started writing in and then ended up we went to family camp. We went to this very old summer camp close to where we live so that I could kind of do research for this book, and it was so fun, wasn't fun? Yeah, the research must be the best part of this in some ways. Yeah, so this is going to air a few days before the book is released. So why don't you tell some people, some people, why don't you tell everyone about your tour? Oh my goodness, I'm so excited about my tour. So my first tour event is March twenty nine, which is the launch day, and it is going to be this grand and Glorious Party and my hometown of Salisbury, North Carolina, at a house that is nicknamed little bit more. What could be better than that? Could be better than that? Better than that. So I'm really excited about that because I've never actually had like a big launch...

...party in Salisbury. We always you have this big exciting at the store, is always my big assigning. But we thought this year were really going to celebrate and some really generous friends offered to host this party. They were like, well, the house is a little bit more. We've got a host the wedding Gil Party, of course, and even cooler than that than the really fun party, is that they owned two of Princess Diana's gounts and they spend the whole year traveling the globe on these you know exhibits and parts of you know museum exhibits and whatever when they're actually bringing them home for the party. So I'm super excited that are all that. I have seen the dresses, I've seen the exhibits. Oh my God, there's something about seeing them that just kind of gives you the chills. I know, I know, I'm so excited for that. I've actually gotten to see them before, but this will be really fun and okay, so that's the that's the beginning. And then I have, you know, three and a half weeksish of tour. I'm mostly in the southeast, which, you know, it is good. We had we kept planting these big cross country tours and then canceling them because so this time I was like, okay, pulling the blog on this, like let's do a southeast store where I can mostly drive and then we won't have to reschedule things. But fortunately, everything not on all the wood, but things are looking pretty good right now. So I felt pretty confident about going out and seeing readers. I'm so excited to see everyone. And can we can we talk about other things? We can, because this will are two days after we make the big announcement. So please, and I'm so excited because on May fourth, to celebrate the launch of Mary Kas the newcomer, and Kristen's paper bag, the farest vanishing stars, we will be with one Mr Ron Block, all of us. Patty will be there too, who's at the Kiahoga County Library. It's going to be a Graham celebration and I haven't see everyone there. It is going to be amazing and I will put the links up for people to how they can join US live right here in Cleveland. I cannot believe we've talked about this for so long and finally going to happen and it's like every few months we'd be like, oh, everything's going to we're going to be able to do it this time, we're gonna be able to do it this year, we're going to be able to do it the two months and then we just haven't been able to. So I'm so happy that this is finally coming to fruition, me too, and we're so excited up here, and you know a personally, I'm thrilled to have you all in my hometown where throll to. We can't wait. It's gonna be fun. Yeah, okay, Christie. Well, I know the book is going to be amazing. I also know how much of your heart is on the page of this book. I can tell, and you just continue to amaze readers with every book. Your existing fans are going to love this book, but you're going to gain a whole new legion of fans that love historical fiction. So you've kind of opened yourself up to a lot more readers and I cannot wait for them to embrace this. But I appreciate that so much and I have so, I mean, I do have that. It guys my audience a little and I can't tell you anything about my twenty twenty four buck yet, but I can't tell you that it is a historical contemporary novel and I'm very excited about it. Already know what it is. I'm too. I'm actually going, I'm kind of in the middle of to our I'm going to go do some research in and Qys. So it's actually part of it as sun and like the s and an old QS. Dude. It's somebody to carry your luggage for you. You want to come. I mean, I'm so excited. Anywhere, any Oh my God, I always have the best time with you. I go anywhere, we would have so much fun. We too. Okay. Well, thank you so much for being here, Christine, and just thank you for writing this book. People are going to love it. Well, thank Youre on, for taking the time and for all you do for friends and fiction and for this amazing podcast. And Wow, it just you're amazing and your enthusiasm and and this has got to get tiring sometimes and you do such a good job. So I thank you for being here and for doing all that. Thanks for saying that, but it's a labor of love. I just adore you Allso I get to hug you in your life and May I keep yes, yes, yes, and thank you all for listening to this episode. We appreciate the support we've gotten for you all and hope that you will share this with a friend. On behalf of Christine, Mary, K Kristen and Patty. We hope you have a great week and let's meet right here next week. Thank you to our presenting sponsors, Charleston Coffee Roasters and page one books, for their generous support. Show our sponsors some love by following them on facebook and instagram and subscribing to their email newsletters. Remember use code coffee with friends for twenty percent off bagged coffees at Charleston Coffee roasters and code friends, plural friends fifteen for fifteen percent off book subscriptions at Page One. Thank you for tuning in to the friends and fiction writers block podcast. Please be sure to subscribe rate and review on your favorite podcast platform. Tune in every Friday for another episode, and you can also join us every week on facebook or youtube,...

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